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Lifting Off the New PlayStation2 Game Hollywood-Style

October 20, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

There may be a glitch in the availability of PlayStation2, Sony's newest video game console, but that didn't mean game over for a big launch party. Sony hosted a blowout at the Pacific Design Center on Thursday night for hundreds of guests.

The star-studded party was about positioning the product for the future, said Sony Computer Entertainment President and Chief Operating Officer Kazuo Hirai. He was optimistic despite the fact that a shortage of components means that only half the expected number of PlayStation2s will arrive in stores Thursday.

"This isn't just phase two of a video game console. It's the future of entertainment," he said. "And celebs are opinion leaders."

One "opinion leader" present was Robert Downey Jr. Released from prison in August, Downey may be party ready, but he's not red carpet ready. "I want to go around it," he told a publicist after surveying the arrival scene, with its nearly 40 camera crews.

The party was held in the parking structure, but dry ice created moody smoke that disguised unpleasant garage features. Guests took elevators up to the fifth level, or rode in one of about a dozen golf carts standing by to ferry them up. Upstairs, waitresses served oyster shooters from rolling raw bars, while revelers got a sneak peek at the movie-like quality of PlayStation 2 on gigantic screens. But no game-playing yet.

Self-described "gamer" Trey Parker, dressed not in women's clothes but in pants with an American flag print, said he and "South Park" buddy Matt Stone won't be filming a sequel to "BASEketball." But they are producing a live action show for Comedy Central based on the new first family.

If Gore wins, it will be called "The Al Gore Show," he said, and if Bush wins, it will be "The George Bush Show." The weekly series will begin in January. Sounds intriguing. . . . Of course, you never know with those guys when they might be putting you on.

At about 10:30 p.m., after a voice announced over a loudspeaker that PlayStation2 was "ready for liftoff," the game-hungry herd migrated to the top level of the parking structure. Under the stars, two floors of platforms had been erected. DJ Paul Oakenfeld was stationed on top of the party pyramid, playing to a dance floor on a platform below.

Drinks, desserts and the breathtaking skyline view were no match for the soft sofas and wide-screen TVs hooked up with the new game consoles. I thought I spotted a pair of 20-something guys ogling a go-go dancer. I was wrong. Zombie-eyed, one of them was pointing to a TV screen and said, "Tekken Tag is awesome, man!"


Hollywood heavyweight Dems who watched the last presidential debate at Eagles' manager Irving Azoff's Beverly Hills house stayed in good spirits, even as the candidates criticized sex and violence in movies, music and TV.

When George W. Bush said, "We ought to talk plainly to the Hollywood moguls and people who produce this stuff," producer Lawrence Bender, fist in air, said, "That's us, man!"

Others who tuned in from Azoff's luxe screening room (which had a TV the size of my living room): Fran Drescher, David Schwimmer, Sharon Lawrence, Ed Begley Jr. and "Access Hollywood" host Pat O'Brien--the only one of the famous bunch who left in a limo.


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